Ron Howard Reveals How He Was Accidentally Forced to Be Narrator on 'Arrested Development'

His test lines scored so well with audiences that they became permanent

BY Alex HudsonPublished Jun 6, 2024

The first couple of seasons of Arrested Development are some of the most hilarious and influential seasons of a sitcom ever, and that's thanks at least in small part to Ron Howard's cheerful yet blunt narration. Now, the actor and filmmaker has explained how he became the show's narrator, revealing that it was a last-minute decision that led to him accidentally being forced into the role.

Appearing on the podcast Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend, Howard recalled his time as an executive producer on the show, and how he helped develop the original idea with creator Mitch Hurwitz. The show was "supposed to be, originally, a little more faux-documentary than it wound up being," Howard said.

He continued, "I was pitching the idea of a narrator, and Mitch said, 'I don't think we're going to need that.' He shot it and it was funny. But he said, 'We should try it as an experiment. I kind of think you're on to something.' I was directing a movie in Santa Fe, and he said, 'Would you just temp in the voice?' So I did it, literally in the sound truck. We were on location in Santa Fe. I did it one lunch break for the pilot. Sent it off and didn't think much about it."

This quickly recorded narration was then included in the pilot episode of the show, which was shown to test audiences soon after.

Howard recalled, "A couple of days later, Mitch called back and said, 'Well, I have really good news, and news that maybe is good or maybe not, I don't know.' I said, 'Well, give me the really good news first.' He said, 'The pilot tested really well!' I said, 'Well, what's the mixed news?' He said, 'Well, I just don't know how you're going to feel about it, because the narrator tested the highest, and now you have to do it. We sold the show, but I said you're doing it. You're the narrator!'"

And the rest is history, giving the world unforgettable lines like "That would be the happiest moment George Michael would ever experience in his life" when George Michael has to share a prison cell with his cousin Maeby.

Watch Howard and O'Brien talk about Arrested Development in the clip below.

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